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New open carry law stirs debate in South Carolina, even among gun owners

Updated: May. 19, 2021 at 7:57 AM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Gun owners in South Carolina will soon be able to openly carry their firearm as long as they have a concealed weapons permit.

Gov. Henry McMaster signed the Open Carry with Training Act into law Monday. The new bill, which goes into effect Aug. 15, continues to divide people when it comes to whether it’s necessary.

“I’m actually not a real big fan,” 707 Gun Shop owner Robert Battista said. “I think it’s going to cause more problems than it’s going to solve.”

Battista believes the law could lead to a number of unwanted issues, especially for an area like the Grand Strand that relies heavily on tourists.

“I’m hoping that people walking around displaying firearms isn’t going to cause them to choose to go other places on vacation,” Battista said.

He added he’s happy the new law also eliminates the $50 permit fee for a concealed weapons permit, but said that’s the only good it does.

“I really don’t know what problem this was supposed to fix,” Battista said.

Not all gun owners agree with his stance.

Sherra Scott is the president of South Carolina Carry, an organization pushing for more pro-gun legislation. While she applauds McMaster for signing the bill into law, it’s still not exactly what she had hoped for.

“We were hoping for constitutional carry,” Scott said.

Constitutional carry would have allowed anyone to openly carry a gun without a permit. While Scott wishes that’s what passed, she said open carry will still have benefits, primarily individuals looking to harm someone likely won’t target those who have their weapon visible.

“If we look like we have the ability to fight back, then they’re more likely to move on and leave us alone,” Scott said.

She added open carry is a step in the right direction for strengthening the Second Amendment right of South Carolinians, and she disagrees with people like Battista who say carrying openly would cause fear for some.

“It should be our choice how we carry,” she said. “It should not be the government’s choice how we carry. And if people are uncomfortable, I hate to sound crass, but the truth is their comfort is not my responsibility.”

The new law also makes South Carolina a Second Amendment Sanctuary State.

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